Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, arrested in connection to the online leak of top secret U.S. documents was charged Friday with the unauthorized detention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials.
After his first court appearance in a federal court in Boston, Teixeira was detained and will remain in custody ahead of a detention hearing set for next Wednesday.
He was arrested by the FBI at his family’s home in Massachusetts on Thursday, after federal authorities scrambled to find the source of the leak.
According to The New York Times, Teixeira ran a chatroom on the online gaming platform Discord called ”Thug Shaker Central” where the sensitive documents first surfaced.
According to the federal criminal complaint, Teixeira had been stationed at an Air National Guard base in Massachusetts and had a title of “Cyber Defense Operations Journeyman.”
In that position, he had a “Top Secret security clearance” that was granted in 2021, the complaint said.
Teixeira was also the administrator of an online server used “to discuss geopolitical affairs and current and historical wars,” investigators said.
In January, he allegedly began to post photos of U.S. government documents in the chatroom that appeared to contain classification markings. One of the documents described the status of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including troop movements on a specific date.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday there were “very serious penalties” associated with the leaking of such highly classified documents.
The leak included hundreds of classified Pentagon documents, containing detailed intelligence assessments of allies and adversaries of the U.S. and developments in the Russia-Ukraine war. The documents subsequently spread to other social media platforms such as 4chan, Twitter, and Telegram.
The Pentagon is now actively warning officials not to leak classified information or even talk about leaks to reporters, according to a memo sent this week to senior leaders and obtained by Semafor.
In a statement Friday, President Joe Biden said he has directed military and intelligence officials "to take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information."